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Raikkonen was fastest at Jerez - or was he?  All sound and fury, signifying nothing. That is about all that can be said about the four days at Jerez. For the record Ferrari was fastest, McLaren was slowest, and Force India didn’t even bother showing up. Despite some websites and publications using plenty of ink (or bytes) telling you what we’ve learnt or making grand predictions based on the relative performances last week let me give you the one tip you really can rely on. They’re talking bollocks.

  Much like last year, and many years prior to that, the times generated at the first test mean bugger all when it comes to how the grid forms up in Melbourne. Much like last year, Ferrari was fast. Much like last year Renault was unreliable. Much like last year Mercedes was not (particularly fast nor unreliable). Last year, come Melbourne, Ferrari was slow, Renault was reliable (at least in Ricciardo’s Red Bull) and Mercedes vanished rapidly into the distance. Such was the performance differential some suggested that Mercedes completed half the Malaysian Grand Prix before the rest of the field finished at Albert Park.


  Does anyone really think that Ferrari have found so much speed that they are now the team to beat? Or that Sauber have the second best car for the coming year? Or that Mercedes have produced a slower car than last year? Or that McLaren Honda are really that far off the pace? In reality all that the Jerez test is about is making sure that your car has all its bits connected to all the other bits they need to be connected to ensure you don’t have the embarrassing sight of injectors firing fuel out of the air-box or the big wheels at the front. 

  And let’s be honest about it,  embarrassing blunders do occur. How many laps did Renault powered teams do last year? Remember McLaren producing a car that Nigel Mansell couldn’t squeeze his fat arse into? History is littered with great ideas that come a cropper as soon as the wheels turn. Or don’t as the case may be. The wingless wonders of the ground effect era (the Lotus 80 and Brabham BT47) that rapidly sprouted wings (and in Brabham’s case became the bog standard BT48), March’s 721 with its polar moment of inertia. The BRM P15. The McLaren MP4/18. The Arrows (Footwork) FA12 Porsche... Eek. But this is what testing is for. Some dung heaps stay dung heaps but some come out the other side as roses. OK it’s not F1 but how about the Porsche 917 as an example? Terrifyingly unstable upon release in 1969. Dominated sports car racing in 1970 and 71 to the extent that the sport’s governing body changed the rules to outlaw them. Or the Lotus 77 that struggled to qualify at the beginning of 1976 but won the final round at Fuji.

  There were though, some things we did learn. Not many and few will have any relevance once the season starts. Renault need to redesign a shaft in the ERS water pump. Badly. Again the Mercedes engines are putting in an ominous amount of laps without any serious problems. And discounting the fastest overall lap times, which can be run with sod all fuel and ballast mysteriously disappearing, it was perhaps significant to note that the fastest three cars through the speed trap on the back straight (Williams, Mercedes and Lotus) were all Mercedes powered. The best Renault and Ferrari powered cars (Toro Rosso and Sauber) were over 4 kph down on the Williams. That could, however, be accounted for by the amount of rear wing/downforce/drag that the slower cars were running which may have also contributed to their better overall lap times as Jerez is about as fast and flowing as the Hungaroring.

   Which is why Force India didn’t even bother showing up. With a desire to give themselves more time to develop and build the car they never intended to have their 2015 challenger ready for Jerez and simply trolling around a circuit that has few similarities with the bulk of the tracks in race usage in last year’s car was seen to be of little, if any, value. When the first of two tests at Barcelona begins late next week we should be able to begin to have the first glimmers of an inkling about understanding the possible potential performance of this year’s contenders. Do I have any real knowledge  yet? To quote Douglas Adams “the thought hadn’t even begun to speculate about the merest possibility of crossing my mind.”

 For full times & results ; http://www.mmmsport.com.au/index.php/the-database/formula-1-races/2010-2019/2015-formula-1

 Sam Snape 10/02/2015